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Andrew, Surrey

Andrew and his family moved from a two bedroom flat in London last year to a three-bedroom grade II listed cottage in Surrey. Andrew asked Ovo Energy to give him a smart meter so he could gauge energy use. Their smart meter has already given them valuable information about their consumption. They continue to use it as they modernise and improve the energy efficiency of their cottage. Andrew lives with his wife and their very energetic six-year-old daughter.

We moved into the house in June 2015 and had the smart meter installed within two months of moving. The building doesn’t have an energy performance certificate, listed buildings don’t require them.  The smart meter though would help us understand how to improve efficiency.  

Timber-frame houses are not like modern flats. They are not sealed boxes. There are actual holes in the wall. And the walls breathe. Both air and moisture. Or should do if you are to avoid the wood rotting. They are not then very energy efficient. Or at least need more work to improve. Having a smart meter will let us know how well our improvements are progressing.

The best part of the process had to be the installation; it was brilliant. The installer really knew what he was doing. He asked great questions and talked us through every step of what he was doing. He loved the house and gave us some helpful tips on improving our pipes and wires. Both of which will need to be completely replaced this year. It took half a day. 

I keep my meter display sat on my radio in my kitchen but I really like to be able to see my account on the Ovo Energy website. It’s very easy to use and gives you good information. Including the ability to compare data over time. When not in the house there is a also a phone app. I’m hoping this will link up in future with smart-home improvements. Such as the facility to turn the heating off remotely. If we forget, when at work, or on holiday.

For now though we’re seeing an immediate difference with light-bulbs and appliances. Everything needs replacing. We inherited old appliances from the previous owners. For example an old washing machine. When it was replaced we really saw the difference. We also had a faulty bulb in their fridge. It actually gave off heat when left on. Which was often given faulty door seals. We noticed a big difference when we unscrewed it.

In our living room we have a wood-burning stove that keeps us cosy in winter. Once it heats the room up the thermostat switches off. We’ve seen a clear fall in the amount of gas that we are using. In mid-winter for example we can spend £4.50 a day, with all the hot air leaking out through the holes in the walls. With the burner on it drops to £1-£2.

Since getting the smart meter we have got a very precise idea of what it costs when you make mistakes. I left the hot water tap dripping by accident one day and I saw that it cost us £9 in gas. Thanks to the smart meter readings we won’t be doing that again.

I had some understanding of my bills before getting a smart meter. I used consumer websites to make sure I got the best deal. I also used Which to review customer service. We are on direct debit so we are not worrying month to month. But this was a mild winter. And gas prices are low. Next year could be much more expensive.  So it’s important that we are not complacent. We are looking forward to getting started on the renovations.